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Bob McDowell

Shouldn't the reference to "Acts 3:38" be "Acts 2:28"?

Steve

Thanks. You're correct.

RL

I think Bob meant it should be Acts 2:38 (And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."), not 28 (You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence).

L P C

It starting to click on me. The reason why other protestants do not appreciate the Lutheran view of baptism is because, really their view of justification is different from the Lutheran view. But once the justification ie the Gospel is ironed out, the Lutheran view of baptism starts making sense - because it calls a spade a spade - as the Scripture says - we got united to Christ in our baptism.

Wade Keever

I am not sure who wrote the above information, but it seems to me that he (she) is somewhat confused. For instance, Titus 3:5 & 6 is not talking about baptism but rather LOVE. "...the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness (baptism) which we have done, but according to his mercy (not receiving the hell we deserve) he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which (love) he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;" The Bible seems to be saying here that we were saved (or regenerated) because his love toward us appeared through his mercy, which (salvation) washed our sins away, and we were renewed by the Holy Ghost making a new creature of us. Since the Bible also says in Titus 3:7, "That being justified (saved) by his grace (something received but not deserved), we should be made heirs (something given but not worked for) according to the hope (assurance) of eternal life." We must always remember that only the blood of Jesus can wash away our sins. Heb 9:22 says "...without shedding of blood is no remission." Old Testament patriarchs were saved looking forward through time to the Crucification (not by baptism) and after Jesus' death, burial, and ressurection, the New Testament saints look back to the Crucification and His Shed Blood to wash away our sins, not the water of baptism. The only thing that an unrepentant person gets in baptism is wet.
One more thing: when a person writes something as important as the above article, dealing with sin, death, life, where a person will spend eternity, the references of Book, Chapter, and Verse should be correct. Acts 3:38 does not exist, neither does Acts 4:38. If you are not sure, please ask someone else to look it over and make sure all is correct.

Brent Gordon

Wonderful work here! Thank you. God knows how frightened, mistrusting, resentful and self consumed we are when He speaks His Word of forgiveness to us. In His mercy, He has given us the gift and means of His promise in the waters of baptism. He does not leave it up to our weak imaginations or fleeting experiences to graft us into Christ, rather He gives us a real time event in our history that we can point to with confidence and declare,"There and then has God done for me an account of Christ". Just as the Jews of old gathered at Shiloh to recount the promises and works of God done for them, we may too point to our baptism and know that God has acted. When we who are by nature weak and lacking in faith, assailed by our conscience, doubt and the Holy law of God, we dare to say, 'yes. It is all true, but we have a Saviour Christ Jesus who has done all for our salvation'. If one becomes unsure if he is included in what Christ has done he need only return back to the promise given at his baptism. Crucified (judged, executed) and raised (declared righteous) with Christ in baptism.
The posted link is another very good study (audio) on baptism. Thanks for this site! God bless.

brent gordon

http://www.lightofthemaster.com/Faith.html

David Barber

I agree with most of what the writer says, but I ask him a question. According to Mark 16:16, only one who believes can be saved. Acts 2:38 states that those who heard were told to repent. Babies are unable to hear and understand and also have no sin to repent of. They are, until they reach the age where they can understand, and can sin, they are in a saved state.

Steve Newell

David,

Thanks for the commments. No one can chose to be saved. Christ saves us first. Just read Ephesians 2. Our ability to believe is a gift of God, not an act of the human will. Our will is sinful and naturally opposed to God.

As for babies, there is no biblical support for your position. Your position assumes that children don't sin. My son sinned at 18 months when he blamed the dog for something that only he could do. Does he then need salvation: YES!. When Jesus told the disciples to baptize all nations, all nations include infants. Also infants are sinful by nature due to Adam's sin.

Cliff

Great article, I appreciate your approach to scripture and I think you are right on. I have a question about your statement "Baptism is a way of salvation that God has given us. We find examples of those who were saved through baptism and those saved prior to their baptism or with no baptism at all"

Do you believe that one could be saved without baptism today? From what I read in scripture and your post I don't think we can... (which is a scary thought when looking at the religious world). You mentioned examples of those who were saved prior to baptism, who are you referring to?

Thanks a lot for your work, I have even forward it to a friend to check out as well.

Cliff

I have done some work on baptism as well if you would like to look at it http://www.ayoungpreacher.com although it is not as well written as yours.

Jeff Epperheimer

Jesus tells us to be baptized and to repent of our sins, to drink ans eat (communion) in remembrance of him when we meet in his name (weekly worship). When different opinions are entered into teaching god's will, we come up with man's version of god's plan which is not from God. If we follow god's plan (the Bible) and not stray to the convenience of others. We will be saved. What if what your life hangs on the opinions of man. Jesus says to be baptized and follow his will and live for him. What if?

Jeff

GZ

Dave,

Thanks for your comments.

I would argue that babies are able to hear and understand, otherwise they would never learn to speak.

The false teaching that babies are unable to sin until a certain age leads to a frightening conclusion when carried out to its logical end: 1. We truly love our babies. 2. Because we truly love them, we want them to go to heaven. 3. People who die sinless go to heaven...

Babies can indeed sin: "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." (Ps 51:5)

The great news is that babies can also have faith!: "Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast." (Ps 22:9) ""Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, " 'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise' ?" (Mt 21:16) "15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth." (Lk 1:15--speaking of John te Baptist)

It is hopefully clear that babies are sinful, but they too are afforded the forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ delivered by the Holy Spirit through God's Word and sacrament.

Joshua

My Freind

Thank for your words of wisdom. I agree fully with what you have said. It is a shame that we have forgotten the role of Baptism. It is even more of a shame that the church is so torn apart by this simplesubject. The fact is that we need to stop fighting between ourselves and focus on the spreading of the word.

May God Bless you

Steve Newell

Jeff,

Thanks for your comments. Baptizing is part of spreading the Gospel message. We cannot separate the Means of Grace from proclamation of Law and Gospel. They go hand in hand.

Eppeigal

I fully agree with Jeff,
Baptism is a must. You can't just listen to parts of the Bible. You have to take it as a whole, otherwise it's wothless. There is much more to do than to just be baptized to be saved.

You need to repent.
Luke 13:3
I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

Acts 17:30
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

Need to make a verbal confession.
Romans 10:10
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

You need to be Immersed. That means fully under the water. EX. Say your pet dies and you want to burry it out in the back do you sprinkle dirt on it and call it burrying? No, you fully cover it in dirt. Just like we are to be fully covered in water.

Romans 6:4
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Acts 2:38
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Mark 16:16
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Acts 22:16
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'

1 Peter 3:21
and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

1 Corinthians 10:16
Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?

If you don't believe me, look it up in the Bible for yourself.
Acts 17:11
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

GZ

Eppeigal,

Do you believe one is saved by works? If one is saved by works, who then can be saved?

"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Mt 19:26)

Salvation is not the work of man, it is the work of God. God is who is at work in baptism, through his living and active word. It is God's work, the forgiveness of sins (Ac 2:38), that saves us in baptism. For what else is salvation if not the forgiveness of sins?

We do not validate baptism. God validates baptism by his promise of grace through his living and active Word. We trust and rely on his promise, and he always keeps his promises.

Eppiegal

Actually I believe whatever the God says(the Bible). If God says that you have to be baptized then you have to be baptized. Don't you believe everything the Bible says?
Eppiegal

Larry

Adding baptism as a must for salvation is a different Gospel. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is what is taught. Baptism by water is a command for believers only as a sign of their new life in Christ.

The thief on the cross, who was saved, was not baptized by water. As far as I know, none of the Old Testament saints were baptized by water. Paul himself thought it better that he didn't baptize any with water. He went teaching repentance and faith alone for salvation. He preached Christ crucified, not water baptism.

"For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." 1 Cor 1:17

The Bible teaches that if you add anything to the Gospel, it's not the Gospel and it doesn't save you. In fact, it curses you. Sorry.

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." Gal 1:6-9

Eppiegal

There is only one Truth.
You can't bring the theif on the cross into this first..
1)You don't know if he was baptized or not
2)Jesus told him he was saved What does he tell you?
Acts 2:38
"Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

3)He died under the old law, in which, you don't have to be baptized to be saved
Do you follow the Old Testement Laws? Because they were taken away when Jesus died.

God baptizes, you it's not a work of man, but of God.

I didn't add anything to the Bible, not just the Gospel. You have to take the WHOLE Bible.

Jeff Epperheimer

Eppiegal, thanks,

The problem today is that God is followed only if it fits a person's lifestyle. If you can make it work by following certain areas of the bible and not in in fullness, then why not?

Well, God commands that we worship him. He is a loving God and yes he forgives, but he did not mean that we should only live to be good people and be nice to everyone and la, la ,la. He laid down a set of expectations that we are to follow and if we do not follow them, then he has strictly told us what will happen.

We must live for him and follow his word. We can be saved and still fall from God and go to hell. It is an unjustified thought that one can believe after actually reading the bible that once saved, always saved.

This life on earth is but a moment of eternity and when we spend precious time making sure our worship is a form of entertainment and that what is preached never makes anyone feel bad, so that they continue to come to worship for selfish reasons, so that we can still get the offering to support the farse. We are doing injustice to God's plan.

God is a loving god, but he has given us works to follow and certain steps to be saved and what we should do during worship.

Again, what if what your life hangs on the opinions of man?

Jeff

Steve Halbrook

Eppiegal,
You said, "God baptizes, you it's not a work of man, but of God."

I respectfully disagree. 1 Cor. 1:14, 15 is clear that man performs the water baptism.

Yes, water baptism is a work. The implication of Rom. 4:9 is that circumcision is a work. And if circumcision is a work, so is water baptism.

Moreover, consider Matt. 3:14, 15: “John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented.”

Is not fulfilling all righteousness a work?

There are many texts misinterpreted to prove salvation by water baptism. A popular one is Acts 2:38. But please consider this:

“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 2:38)

Many insist “for” here means “in order to,” or “in order to obtain” (Ross, Campbellism: Its History and Heresies, 86).

Why insist that “for” here means that? The word “for” can assume different meanings. In English, when we say someone is arrested for murder, do we mean they are arrested in order to obtain murder? No—they are arrested because of murder! When we laugh for joy, do we laugh in order to obtain joy? No!—we laugh because of joy!

Indeed, Dana and Mantey in “A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament” hold that “for” in Acts 2 should be understood as “because of the forgiveness of your sins.” (Reymond, Systematic Theology, 952).

Also, consider the leper in Luke 5:

“And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” (Luke 5:13, 14, KJV).

On this passage, Ross writes,

1. He was healed before he offered a sacrifice.
2. The offering was “for thy cleansing;” not to obtain it, but a formal declaration in ceremony that it was already enjoyed.
3. The offering was “for a testimony.” … They [formal ordinances] show forth whatever it is that they are ordained to refer to.

“Baptism is just such an ordinance and ceremony, showing forth that it is in the death of Christ that we have the actual, literal remission of sins. Baptism is “for the remission of sins” only in the sense of a “testimony” referring to the death of Christ, just as the leper’s offering was “for thy cleansing” in the sense of a testimony (Ross, 87).”

Moreover, we must consider the following parallel passage to Acts 2:38:

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matt. 3:11)

Compare this with Acts 2:38:

“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized … for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 2:38)

It would be absurd to argue that Matt. 3:11 means “I baptize you with water in order to obtain repentance.” This would mean that water baptism causes repentance! And yet, if one insists the language of Acts 2:38 demands an interpretation that reads “be baptized in order to obtain the forgiveness of your sins,” logical consistency would demand that person to believe the language of Matt. 3:11 also demands an interpretation that reads, “I baptize you with water in order to obtain repentance.”

The baptismal regenerationist has no parallel passage about water baptism that line up with his interpretation of Acts 2—but, as we see, we do have a parallel passage that goes against his interpretation of Acts 2.

There is another explanation of Acts 2.

It is also possible to take the clause "and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ" as parenthetical. Support for that interpretation comes from that fact that "repent" and "your" are plural, while "be baptized" is singular, thus setting it off from the rest of the sentence. If that interpretation is correct, the verse would read "Repent (and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ) for the forgiveness of your sins." Forgiveness is thus connected with repentance, not baptism, in keeping with the consistent teaching of the New Testament (cf. Luke 24:47; John 3:18; Acts 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18; Ephesians 5:26). (John MacArthur, “Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?” http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/GCCBAP.HTM

Robert Reymond further elaborates on this interpretation of Acts 2:

If baptism were essential to salvation or to the reception of forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit, omission of all reference to it in these contexts on the part of Jesus and Peter respectively [Luke 24:47, Acts 3:19] would be exceedingly strange if not totally irresponsible (see also Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 1:17, and his insistence upon the need only for heart circumcision, baptism’s Old Testament spiritual counterpart, in Rom. 2:26-29). (Reymond, New Systematic Theology, 951).

Whatever the interpretation, the baptismal regenerationist interpretation cannot stand in light of the full counsel of God. And, all we need to do is go to the very next chapter to prove the water baptism salvation interpretation wrong:

“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,” (Acts 3:19, 20).

And then we move on to Acts 10:44-48; 11:15-17, where Gentiles are clearly saved prior to water baptism.

Tim

Steve,

You can't deconstruct our doctrines by imposing your alien definition of baptism. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins--not a "water baptism" and/or a "Holy Spirit baptism." (In this way you can avoid saying silly things like, "This would mean that water baptism causes repentance!" Well, that's sort of the whole point of baptismal regeneration; baptism regenerates you.)

Ultimately, the baptist doctrine fails because it cannot explain regeneration. Regeneration; that is, being born again, is spoken of three times: in John 3:5, Titus 3:5, and 1 Peter 1:23. John 3:5 connects regeneration to "water" and the "Holy Spirit." Titus 3:5 connects it to "washing" and the Holy Spirit. 1 Peter 1:23 connects it to the "word."

Curiously, Eph 5:25-27 tells us that Christ saved and sanctified us by a "washing" with "water" through the "word."

Baptists, of course, deconstruct and explain away all these passages. But in the process they lose the ability to explain regeneration themselves. Thus their doctrine is self-refuting.

But my favorite baptismal regeneration passage is in Ezekiel 36.

"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."

It's basically a textbook baptismal regenerationist argument. Who does the work? God. What does God do in baptism? He cleanses you from sin. He gives you a new heart and puts His Spirit in you. In a word, He saves you. (Admittedly, I feel the comment on "sprinkling" just adds insult to injury.)

JN

Yep, one more 'loving' reminder that this is Lutheran territory and how dare anybody offer a different point of view on OUR doctrines and what WE acknowledge? What were you thinking Steve?

Did you not know that God only revealed the Bible to Lutherans and not all these other....second class denominations? It may not be in the Bible you read, but in the Apocrypha you’ll find that WE ARE the elect, and the only ones who know how to speak truth in love so articulately. We are the holy snipers, divinely ordained to shoot anything that raises its ugly head with a different opinion.

What made you think that discussion is at all negotiable here? It's OUR WAY OR THE HIGHWAY! Get your act together Steve and don’t press the issue anymore because we’re getting a little low on our sulphur; demand has outstripped our supply!

Steve Newell

First, Lutherans do not teach that only those who are baptized are saved. We see examples where people were saved through hearing the Word has well as those who were saved through Holy Baptism. Unlike both that try to reduce baptism as merely an act that man does to make God happy and those say that only those who are baptized are saved, we believe teach and confess that we can be saved by Holy Baptism or by hearing the Word. This view is consistent with Holy Scripture. If you read my posting, no where did I say that only MUST be baptized to be saved. I did say that baptism saves.

Second, to say baptism is a work of man since it is the Pastor who baptized the individual by the physical pouring of water, and not an act of God, is a very poor straw man. A man, the Pastor, preaches God's Words which can cause individual to hear, believe and repent. Does that mean it's the pastor's words who saved since God didn't speak, but the pastor did? No. We would agree that God works through the spoken Word in the words of the Pastor to bring a person to faith and salvation. Likewise, a person prints the bible on paper that we read. We don't limit God just because we read Holy Scripture on a piece of paper which is created by a person or the ink which is imprinted on the paper by a person. God works through means. He works through the words of the Pastor and the ink on the page (spoken and written Word), the water in Holy Baptism, and the bread and wine in Holy Communion.

The following teaching on Holy Baptism is from Luther's Small Catechism:

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.

First.

What is Baptism?--Answer.

Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's Word.

Which is that word of God?--Answer.

Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Matthew: Go ye into all the world and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Secondly.

What does Baptism give or profit?--Answer.

It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

Which are such words and promises of God? Answer.

Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Thirdly.

How can water do such great things?--Answer.

It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.

Fourthly.

What does such baptizing with water signify?--Answer.

It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written?--Answer.

St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

In Luther's Large Catechism, he goes into more depth on Holy Baptism.

For those who claim that Holy Baptism is only an "ordinance" that people do show their conversion and not a sacrament, please provide biblical support for this position.

Tim

JN,

Baptists, demonstrably, do not understand what historic christians mean by "regeneration," "baptism," or "baptismal regeneration." There's no hope of refuting something you don't understand. Please help us educate baptists! :)

As I said, the baptist position disintegrates because it has no coherent doctrine of regeneration. And baptists cannot have a coherent doctrine of regeneration, because if they did, they would have to acknowledge the obvious role that baptism plays in it.

As I also said, the baptist problem comes from baptists imposing their definitions on everyone else. Baptists, of course, believe water baptism is a work; it's the first act of Christian obedience to God. So they impose this on Lutherans and accuse them of salvation by works. Yet Lutherans champion salvation by grace and not works, and we believe baptism is God's work (John 3:5, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 1:23, Eph. 5:25-27). Similarly, baptists believe they must "act first" and accept Christ--so they define "works" to exclude this. Yet Lutherans hold that works are anything that comes from us, thus God must act first.

By the way, don't be a relativist pansy. Baptists can argue; we'll argue back. Steve's problem is he doesn't understand what he's arguing against, so his arguments are largely nonsense. Step one for baptists: Realize that we believe in just "baptism," not "water baptism" and/or "spirit baptism." Step two: Realize that we believe man is spiritually dead, thus regeneration must come first.

Steve Newell,

Great post. But now they'll just say we're following the doctrines of men. ;)

akira Kurosawa

Tim I have to say, that was absolute and utter nonsense. All the arguments that Steve H. listed, you just dismiss with a wave of your Lutheran wand and falling back on patting Steve N. for quoting Luther...who by the way is a MAN! So if you want to define that as following the doctrines of men, I would agree with you.

Since you obviously understand Steve H.'s arguments so well, try refuting some of them instead of ignoring them. I am very curious what your answers will be since I think his arguments seem to be pretty good ones.

And stay away from trying to characterize baptist beliefs, you really don't get them at all.

Steve Newell

Akira,

Please provide me with any biblical support that provides that baptism is not a means of grace and that baptism in only an act of obedience.

On quoting Luther, I did the same thing that Steve H. did in quoting individuals to support his position. I am assuming that you do not read any individual's theological work, such as Luther, Calvin, Augustine, etc., you would treat their theological positions as one of MAN and not of God.

Since Baptist are anti-creedial and anti-confessional, trying to define what baptist believe is a challenge. There is no central theological doctrine that centers baptist theology. If I want to find Lutheran theology, I go to the Book of Concord. If I want Reform theology, I go to the Westminster Confessions. Your comment about "get them at all" is correct since most Baptist do not have a common theology.

As one raised in the SBC, I am familiar with Baptist theology.

Tim

Akira,

I am sure it has not escaped your notice that Mr. Halbrook made no positive arguments. He merely attacked the interpretations of a few choice proof-texts. A noble enterprise, I concur.

But the eternal struggle between sacramentarian and sacramentalist, however epic, bores me. "Proof-text!" "Bad interpretation!" "More proof-text!" "Proof-text combo!" "Your combo is wrong!" "My combo beats your combo!"

Yawn. Rather than perpetuate such a mindless exchange (I assure you've I've already perpetuated it quite enough elsewhere), I prefer to undermine it. And here, again, is the root issue which plagues Mr. Halbrook's textbook baptist errors. To make even the slightest headway, the baptist first must accomplish two difficult feats. First, he must concede that the concept of "water baptism" is peculiar to him--no one else, least of all baptismal regenerationists, believes in it. Second, he must construct a coherent position on regeneration, cross-referencing passages such as John 3:5, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 1:23, and Eph. 5:25-27.

When baptists start taking the doctrine of baptismal regeneration seriously, instead of endlessly lobbing proof-texts at their in-house caricatures of baptismal regeneration--then we can talk.

At any rate, you've managed to reinforce what seems to be the general consensus among Chris's blog following, namely, that you never say anything remotely interesting. You give me sad face, sir. Sad face!

akira Kurosawa

Steve N., I am going to apologize to you. Reading back over my post I realize it cam across as pretty condescending and terse, and that completely clouded my meaning.

I was not arguing for either side when I posted, though it did come across that I supported Steve H. I also was asking for support of your side of the argument from the Bible, because I am very familiar with Luther's arguments and the book of Concord, and I am just not sure that I accept them. So since that is where I am, I was honestly curious about your Biblical basis for your beliefs.

However, that being said, the reason that did not come across was the tone of my post was very mean spirited and I apologize.

Looking forward to your reply.

akira Kurosawa

and Tim, I am sorry if I bore you, but I refuse to capitulate to your way of thinking just because you pull out a few fancy words to throw around. I also am not going to go away even though it might make it easier on YOU...

and Tim, not very nice sentiments, but if "the star chamber" seems to think I am boring, whatever shall I do...

LOL, have a nice evening

Steve Newell

Akira,

Thanks for your apology. I appreciate it very much since we live in a time that people refuse to apologize for their words even when they know it may not be kind. If you want to understand biblical support for Baptism as a means of grace, please read this post since I wrote it over 2 years ago.

Steve H.

Tim:

You said, “We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins--not a "water baptism" and/or a "Holy Spirit baptism."

The point of dispute is what “for the forgiveness of sins” means. I have attempted to address that. You have taken the meaning of “for” for granted, and are begging the question.

If there is no distinguishing between water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism, then I am at a loss as to the meaning of Mark 1:8:

“I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

(By the way, I’m not Baptist, but Presbyterian. But my Baptist brothers are right that water baptism plays absolutely no role in salvation.)

JN

I apologize in advance for what follows below. I am going against my own advice here and being deliberately provocative. For the purpose of this post, I am a self confessed ‘victim’ of the warning in Galatians 6:1……(at least I admit it).

AKIRA, my hat off to you for your godly restraint.

TIM, regarding your conclusive sentence to Akira. WHO is right is obviously more important to you than WHAT is right.

Your condescending and baleful rhetoric is a bad advertisement for Lutherans at best and a disgrace to the body of Christ in general. Is your church proud having people like you in it? Your self proclaimed intellectual superiority does nothing to give you respect. If anything, it personifies James 3:13-18

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving , considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

Here’s some more food for thought from a ‘relativist pansy’:

And the Lord's servant must not quarrel ; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful . (2 Tim 2:24)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Eph 4:32)

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (Rom 14:19)

Let us not be desirous of vain glory [OUR doctrines are right], provoking one another , envying one another. (Gal 5:26)

Be completely humble and gentle ; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace…Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen……Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Eph 4)

If you belong with the sheep, stop behaving like the goats! And one more……would you bite your own arm off the way you’re biting Akira? After all, he is a member of the same body, is he not?

AN OPEN APPEAL TO CHRIS ROSEBROUGH

Chris you might have started this blog/site with good intentions but it has degenerated to highly inflammatory and venomous blog exchanges. Surely this must not be in the spirit of what you intended to create. The heated exchanges resemble more a nest of vipers than an electronic discussion forum where godly men and women debate thoughtfully in a manner that is mutually edifying and honouring to our Savior. Your site has become a petri dish that incubates many highly opinionated people who get off on cyber duels. This spoils it for the rest who want to engage in meaningful debates without all the heat.

I am openly appealing to you to SERIOUSLY consider introducing a moderator feature so some of this open slather, ‘007 Licence to kill’ stops.

Tim

Steve H.,

"We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins" is a quote from the Nicene Creed. It is not, necessarily, a paraphrase of Acts 2:38; i.e., I do not intend to argue from Acts 2:38. Now, the meaning of the Nicene Creed is plain: one baptism, which forgives sins. However, there is some question of whether the Nicene Creed accurately confesses Scripture.

If there is no distinguishing between water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism, then I am at a loss as to the meaning of Mark 1:8.

Before you can argue against baptismal regeneration, you must first stop misunderstanding it. So jumping straight to the contrary proof-texts and "problem passages" misses the point; every doctrine has its "problem passages." (For example, your comments on Acts 2:38 suggest it to be a "problem passage" for symbolism.) For goodness sake, even salvation by grace alone has its problem passages!

As I've noted, the topic of regeneration is integral to the topic of baptismal regeneration. What does regeneration mean--that is, what does it mean to be born again?

In lutheran circles, we hold that unregenerate man has no free will in spiritual matters, meaning that he is opposed to and incapable of any helpful spiritual activity, such as "responding" to the Gospel or "accepting Christ," et cetera. The Holy Spirit must first regenerate us through the means of grace (Word and Sacrament), enabling our response of faith and love.

We hold this view, perhaps chiefly, because we consider any other to be a violation of salvation by grace alone. Thus when the protestant says, "You must choose to accept Christ," the lutheran hears, "Salvation by works."

Anyway. Several passages speak of regeneration.

John 3:5. I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.

Titus 3:5. He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit[.]

1 Peter 1:23. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

I do not, as a general rule, observe symbolists taking these passages in concert. Rather, they focus on deconstructing them and explaining away the references to water and/or washing. As I've said several times, I feel this neuters their ability to address regeneration from Scripture. At any rate, these are principle verses for the subject of baptismal regeneration, particularly when combined with the following:

Ephesians 5:25-27. Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

There is some salvific, sanctifying "washing" that involves "water" and the "word." John speaks of salvation and regeneration in terms of "water" and the "Spirit." Paul speaks of them in terms of "washing" and the "Spirit." Peter speaks in terms of the "word." I think it's easy to see where baptismal regenerationists get their ideas.

Nevertheless, the root issue is regeneration itself. Does it confer additional spiritual powers? Or does it resurrect the dead?

But of greatest relevance in this case (and of no small general importance) is this: How does one get regenerated?

Summary:

1. One should understand baptismal regeneration, and where it comes from, before starting to poke holes in it.
2. Please discuss regeneration, particularly w/re to John 3:5, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 1:23, and Eph. 5:25-27.
3. How does one get regenerated?

Tim

JN,

I forgive you.

Disclaimer: For heaven's sake, don't become a Lutheran just because I said something nice!

JN

Tim if I didn’t know you any better I could almost mistake that for sarcasm.

akira Kurosawa

Both Steves, here are my thoughts on baptism. I am sure both of you are familiar with the analogy that is made between circumcision and baptism. Circumcision was a marking of God's people, when you joined the nation of Israel, you generally were circumcised soon after, the same reason children were circumcised soon after being born. But circumcision like the passover and animal sacrifice was merely symbolic (though some might argue animal sacrifice was something more...).

Anyway, with Jesus coming to earth we have the fulfillment of both of those symbols. Except fulfillment is probably too weak a word, because it seems like they are also taken to a new level. Circumcision was a symbol, a marking, baptism from the Biblical passages, seems to be a marking and...something more also?

There just seem to be too many Biblical passages making it an imperative, talking about it saving us, and linking it to the word, Jesus death, and the Holy spirit for it to be simply symbolic. Now is it the water and word that regenerates or just the Holy Spirit that regenerates a person who decides to make a public declaration for Christ in baptism... I am not sure, and there probably isn't a definitive answer, but it does make me want to get other people's views and interpretations of the Biblical passages, so that I can study more.

Thanks for the food for thought.

Tim

Akira,

Now is it the water and word that regenerates or just the Holy Spirit that regenerates a person who decides to make a public declaration for Christ in baptism.

That's precisely issue. Is there water baptism and spirit baptism--or are they one and the same? Also, this gets at another controversy: in what way does the Holy Spirit operate?

Lutherans hold that he operates only through means; namely, word and sacrament. Thus where ever there is the Word, there also is the Holy Spirit. Although it is not as if sacraments are separate from the Word. Water, bread, and wine are nothing by themselves. The Word makes into Baptism and the Eucharist. (Notice also the corollary: Lutherans do not believe in a "dead" or "spirit-less" Word; Spirit and Word always go together.)

Thus "the water and word regenerates" is short-hand for, "the Holy Spirit operates through the water because it is combined with God's Word."

Steve Newell

Akira,

I see that circumcision, the passover and animal sacrifices as pointing to Christ. In that respect, then I would agree that they are "symbolic".

As for regeneration, one can be regenerated by hearing the Words as well as through the Water and the Word. In either case, God regenerates the individual without the consent of the individual.

BTW, no one can make "a decision for Christ". Christ makes the decision for us. We are all dead in our sins and it is God who gives us life by His grace and gives us the gift of faith so that we can believe.

Please provide me with a passage that refers to baptism as a public declaration for Christ. I have asked for one and no one as yet provided with a clear passage to that effect.

Steve H.

Tim,

Thank you for your thoughts.

Regeneration is a sovereign act of the Holy Spirit to those whom the Father chose for salvation, who are those for whom Jesus died. Fallen man is totally depraved; no one seeks after God. Salvation is purely a result of God’s freewill, not man’s.

The point of dispute is, “Does water baptism play any role in conversion, the new birth, or the forgiveness of sins?”

Let’s discuss John 3:5.

Your premise is that there is no distinction between water and Spirit baptism. For your premise to have any validity, you must demonstrate from Scripture.

There are only two ways to demonstrate something from Scripture: 1) By explicit teaching; or by 2) by implicit teaching, i.e., necessary inference. With this in mind:

1) Is there any explicit teaching that water baptism and Spirit baptism are the same? I haven’t seen any, but I see the opposite:
“I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8)

2) Is there any implicit teaching that water baptism and Spirit baptism are the same? In other words, are there any verses where the context demands an interpretation that water baptism and Spirit baptism are the same?

· I’m not speaking of a possible inference, but a necessary inference. I haven’t seen any such teachings. The best a baptismal regenerationist can do is say a text, such as John 3:5, connects water baptism with Spirit baptism because it says, one must be “born of water and the Spirit.” If we simply consider “water” without context we can at best say that water baptism is a possible, but not a necessary, inference.

· I say this because John 3:5 says “water,” not “water baptism.” While water baptism could be implied by water, the Bible also uses the word water to mean other things as well (as we shall see in this post). So this is only a possible inference. But the rule of biblical hermeuntics says that Scripture interprets Scripture, and therefore you cannot use a possible inference in one verse to refute an explicit teaching in another. (Such is like using a theory that the sky isn’t blue to refute the clear, "explicit" evidence that the sky is blue.) And since the explicit teaching of Mark 1:8 clearly refutes the possible inference that John 3:5 teaches water and Spirit baptism are the same, John 3:5 cannot teach they are identical.

3) Kindly permit me to analyze John 3:5. This analysis either directly or indirectly touches on other texts you have raised.

(There are other interpretations of this verse; let me propose what I believe to be the two most plausible.)

I. John 3:5
Interpretation 1: The water refers to amniotic fluid that accompanies physical birth.

Consider v. 5 in light of v. 6:

“Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’” (John 5, 6)

Notice what strongly appears to be sentence structure parallels: “born of water” in v. 5 is paralleled with “born of flesh” in v. 6; and born of “the Spirit” in v. 5 is paralleled with
“born of the Spirit” in vs. 6.

The words water and flesh point strongly to the idea of physical birth, with water implying amniotic fluid that accompanies physical birth, and flesh, it seems, implying physical form. And so here is strong evidence that the verses say that entrance into the kingdom of God requires one to be first born physically, and second born spiritually. (This would have to of course be a generalization, since John the Baptist was spiritually born prior to physical birth).

Anyways, the “born of water” and “born of the flesh” parallel rules out water baptism; how does one equate “born of the flesh” with water baptism? (One more tidbit, take it for what it’s worth: The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, which offers several possible interpretations of John 3:5, says “nowhere else in Scripture does the word ‘water’ refer to amniotic fluid” pp. 1704, 1705).

Interpretation 2: Water refers to either a metaphor of the Holy Spirit or the Word of God

Please carefully consider the following from James Montgomery Boice in “Awakening to God: Foundations of the Christian Faith, Vol. 3”:

Kenneth S. Wuest has proposed a fourth explanation based on the use of water as a metaphor in other New Testament texts. Water is often used in Scripture to refer to the Holy Spirit. In John 4, for instance, Jesus tells the woman of Samaria that he will give her “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn. 4:14). The language of John 7:37-38 is almost identical to that of 4:14. John himself adds, “Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive” (v. 39). Wuest also refers to Isaiah 44:3 and 55:1, both of which should have been known to Nicodemus. If this is the correct interpretation, “of water and the Spirit” is a repetition of ideas. The word and should be taken in its emphatic sense. In English this is generally indicated by using the word even. Jesus would be saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water, even of the Spirit, he cannot enter God’s kingdom.”

The explanation given by Wuest is good, but I have always felt that more can be said. Besides being a metaphor for the Spirit, water is also used in the Bible to refer to the Word of God. Ephesians 5:26 [and 25] says that Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”

In 1 John 5:8, the same author who composed the fourth Gospel writes of “three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood.”
Since he then goes on to speak of God’s written witness to the fact that salvation is in Christ, the Spirit must refer to God’s witness within the individual, the blood to the historical witness of Christ’s death and the water to the Scriptures. The same imagery lies behind John 15:3: “You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you.” Another important text actually cites the Scriptures as the channel through which the new birth comes about although without using water a metaphor. James 1:18 reads, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures” (pp. 57-58).

III. John 3:5 cannot refer to water baptism: Whatever the interpretation, it cannot refer to baptismal regeneration (i.e., effecting the new birth by baptism in physical water). For just a couple verses later, the passage reads:

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (Jn. 3:8).

This makes clear man cannot program the new birth with water baptism. He cannot have water sprinkled or poured upon himself, or immerse himself into water, and expect the Holy Spirit to transform him. The new birth is a sovereign act of God, on God’s timetable.

This birth, incidentally, comes prior to faith. Without a resurrection (i.e., new birth), spiritually dead man can no more approach Christ spiritually (i.e., in faith) than Lazarus, a physically dead man, could approach Christ physically.

IV. Conclusion: I hope it is clear that the need for cleansing is inward by the Word and Spirit—not outward by physical water.

As John 7:37-39 reads:

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

(If we insist that every explicit or implicit reference to water must mean physical water, these verses could be read as meaning that Jesus teaches (1) that we should literally drink the water in the baptistery or wherever else one is water baptized, and (2) rivers of physical water can flow out of someone’s heart.)

And, as Romans 2:29a reads:

“But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.”

God bless,
Steve

Tim

Hi Steve,

The point of dispute is, “Does water baptism play any role in conversion, the new birth, or the forgiveness of sins?”

No, it's not. The point of dispute is, "Does baptism play any role in conversion, the new birth, or the forgiveness of sins?" There is no dispute over whether water baptism regenerates, because only one side believes in such a thing as "water baptism."

However, we can frame the point of dispute in the negative, like so: "Is baptism merely the first act of Christian obedience?" This gets at the issue of whether Christ is a Law-giver, which is often another point of contention between Lutherans and symbolists.

Your premise is that there is no distinction between water and Spirit baptism.

No, that is merely a translation of our doctrine into symbolist language.

This birth, incidentally, comes prior to faith. Without a resurrection (i.e., new birth), spiritually dead man can no more approach Christ spiritually (i.e., in faith) than Lazarus, a physically dead man, could approach Christ physically.

That is agreeable.

I. The Baptismal Dichotomy

The Mark 1:8 event is recorded in all four Gospels, and is commented upon in Acts. Matthew's account contains the most information. The others can be found in Luke 3:16 and John 1:26-33.

Matthew 3:11. I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

It is easy to see the dichotomy of water baptism and spirit baptism. I won't wrangle over that. Moving on:

Acts 1:4-5. On one occasion, while [Jesus] was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

Acts 1:4-5 is the divine interpretation of John the Baptist's earlier prophesy. According to Jesus, John was speaking of the outpouring of the Spirit that would occur at Pentecost. (Notice the mention of "fire" in Matthew's account vs. the fire at Pentecost, and that Jesus says "in a few days.") Therefore we can rephrase John's remarks: "I baptize with water, but Pentecost is coming."

Conclusion: John speaks of Pentecost, not the 'generalized' spirit baptism taught by symbolists. He does not originate the symbolist's baptismal dichotomy.

II. Born of Water and the Spirit

Your analyses of John 3:5 are wrong, and moreover you miss the point. The question is what Scripture says concerning regeneration. You should consider John 3:5 in light of Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 1:23, and Eph. 5:25-27. (But I repeat myself.)

And so here is strong evidence that the verses say that entrance into the kingdom of God requires one to be first born physically, and second born spiritually.

To say 'physical birth is necessary for salvation' is meaningless. Is existence is "necessary" for salvation?

Consider v. 5 in light of v. 6:

Nicodemus, in verse 4, asks Jesus what he means by "born again." Jesus answers in verses 5-8. Thus it makes infinitely more sense to take v. 5 in light of v. 3, or vise versa.

"No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
"No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit."

It is nonsense to interpret v. 5 to mean "born of water and born of the Spirit," i.e., "born physically and born spiritually," because Jesus is expanding on verse 3. To be "born of water and the Spirit" (v. 5) is to be "born again" (v. 3). They are equivalent. That is the clear meaning of the text.

Notice what strongly appears to be sentence structure parallels: “born of water” in v. 5 is paralleled with “born of flesh” in v. 6; and born of “the Spirit” in v. 5 is paralleled with “born of the Spirit” in vs. 6.

The words water and flesh point strongly to the idea of physical birth, with water implying amniotic fluid that accompanies physical birth, and flesh, it seems, implying physical form.

No. Flesh refers to the sinful nature, as it does throughout the NT. Jesus, in verses 6-8, is plainly continuing his answer to Nicodemus' question (v. 4) regarding Jesus' statement in verse 3. Verse 6 explains why man must be born again: sin gives birth to sin; thus we must be born of the spirit to be saved. (I know you agree with me on that last sentence, which is why I find your comment puzzling.)

Anyways, the “born of water” and “born of the flesh” parallel rules out water baptism; how does one equate “born of the flesh” with water baptism?

As shown, the parallel is false. Rather, Jesus equates being "born again" with being "born of water and the Spirit."

Besides being a metaphor for the Spirit, water is also used in the Bible to refer to the Word of God.

The examples you give are poor. For example, I've already cited Eph. 5:25-27. Nevertheless, I will grant your premise, since I agree that 'water' does not always mean 'water.' Yet the fact remains that 'water' can just mean 'water.' You have done nothing to show that, in this case, it doesn't.

John 3:8 makes clear man cannot program the new birth with water baptism. He cannot have water sprinkled or poured upon himself, or immerse himself into water, and expect the Holy Spirit to transform him. The new birth is a sovereign act of God, on God’s timetable.

When you read your theology into an analogy, you get your theology back out. So please don't be absurd; the passage doesn't 'clearly' say that.

Summary:

1. Is water baptism merely an act of Christian obedience? If so, discuss why Jesus would give us new laws, given that he came to fulfill the Law precisely because we couldn't keep it.
2. Mark 1:8 speaks of Pentecost, not a 'generalized' spirit baptism.
3. John 3:3-5 equates being "born again" with being "born of water and the Spirit."
4. Please address regeneration from Scripture in a more comprehensive fashion. Include, at least, John 3:5, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 1:23, and Eph. 5:25-27.

Steve H

Tim,
You completely ignored my post. I have already demonstrated that your theology is based neither on an explicit Scripture, nor a necessary inference. It is speculation imposed on the text.

The theology I hold to, however, is based on clear Scripture, and you have not refuted it.

You are also completely arbitrary in your arguments. The rule of argumentation is that you cannot be arbitrary. If you are arbitrary, then you can prove anything you want to.

To give some examples of your arbitrariness, with your own quotes from previous posts:

… You sometimes deny distinctions between water and Spirit baptism:

“We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins--not a "water baptism" and/or a "Holy Spirit baptism."

“First, he must concede that the concept of "water baptism" is peculiar to him--no one else, least of all baptismal regenerationists, believes in it.”

“There is no dispute over whether water baptism regenerates, because only one side believes in such a thing as "water baptism."”

… While other times you affirm a distinction between water and Spirit baptism:

“It is easy to see the dichotomy of water baptism and spirit baptism.”

“Nevertheless, I will grant your premise, since I agree that 'water' does not always mean 'water.' Yet the fact remains that 'water' can just mean 'water.' You have done nothing to show that, in this case, it doesn't.”

“Is water baptism merely an act of Christian obedience?”

“Baptists, of course, believe water baptism is a work..”

Tim

Steve,

What I wrote was easy to understand. Do yourself a favor and understand it.

You are also completely arbitrary in your arguments. [...] You sometimes deny distinctions between water and Spirit baptism [...] while other times you affirm a distinction between water and Spirit baptism.

I wrote: “We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins--not a "water baptism" and/or a "Holy Spirit baptism."

“First, he must concede that the concept of "water baptism" is peculiar to him--no one else, least of all baptismal regenerationists, believes in it.”

“There is no dispute over whether water baptism regenerates, because only one side believes in such a thing as "water baptism."”

These are true statements. However, I've made other statements that you claim contradict them.

I wrote: “It is easy to see the dichotomy of water baptism and spirit baptism.”

It's easy to see why you think I'm contradicting myself, but it reveals that you've not read/comprehended what I wrote. Explanation: When Mark 1:8 is taken by itself, "it is easy to see the dichotomy of water baptism and spirit baptism." I acknowledge this, and I understand why symbolists proof-text it. Yet in the very next paragraph, had you bothered to read it, I discuss how Jesus, in Acts 1:4-5, interprets Mark 1:8 for us. And this interpretation refutes the symbolist's false dichotomy. Now, obviously you disagree with that, but surely you can see I'm not contradicting myself.

I wrote: “Nevertheless, I will grant your premise, since I agree that 'water' does not always mean 'water.' Yet the fact remains that 'water' can just mean 'water.' You have done nothing to show that, in this case, it doesn't.”

I can't imagine why you think this contradicts anything. There's no mention of "water baptism," even.

I wrote: “Is water baptism merely an act of Christian obedience?”

First, you must accept that I understand symbolist doctrine and am capable of reading it back to you. (Ignore the impulse to assume that because I disagree with your doctrine, I can't possibly understand it.) Second, what I am doing is assuming that symbolism is correct. (Ignore the impulse to assume that Lutherans are closed minded.) This means that "water baptism" exists. Now, I already know that symbolists teach that "water baptism is the first act of Christian obedience." So I asked the question to see if you would affirm that teaching. Why would I care? Because I want you to ponder the concept of Christ as a "Law-giver."

I wrote: “Baptists, of course, believe water baptism is a work..”

I can't imagine why you think this contradicts anything. (Notice how I said, "Baptists believe," not "I believe.") Still, the explanation for this is the same as the one above.

You completely ignored my post.

Really? I quoted your post. Don't be an idiot. Anyway, I suggest you read what I said regarding Mark 1:8 and John 3:5. No, not so you'll convert. Do it so you'll actually understand what you disagree with.

The theology I hold to, however, is based on clear Scripture, and you have not refuted it. I have already demonstrated that your theology is based neither on an explicit Scripture, nor a necessary inference. It is speculation imposed on the text.

Whatever floats your boat, Steve. Anyway--as I said, my post was easy to understand. Since you've obviously not understood it (as evidenced by your silly claim that I "ignored" your post and your silly attempt to show how I've "contradicted" myself), I suggest you put thoughts of "refutation" out of your mind. I'd be happy if you simply understood baptismal regeneration and how it handles certain so-called "problem passages."

Steve H.

Akira,
Regarding your post about points of view about water baptism and interpretations about biblical passages, I have posted on my blog
http://flockalert.wordpress.com/
an analysis on the dangers of believing water baptism saves. I plan to, hopefully soon, put up a separate post refuting the misinterpretations of texts to "prove" water baptism saves.

Hope this is helpful. God bless,
Steve


Steve Newell

Steve H.

Please explain to me two passages:

Acts 22:16

1 Peter 3:21-22

Both passages clearly state that baptism washes away sin.

Steve H.

Steve N.,

If I explain these passages, will you explain whether the following passages are clear whether animal sacrifices and the Lord's Supper wash away sin?

1) “And all its fat he shall remove as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it on the altar, on top of the LORD’s food offerings. And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed, and he shall be forgiven. (Leviticus 4:35) (see also Lev. 1:4; 4:20; 4:26; 4:31; 9:7; 16:24; Num. 15:25; 2 Chron. 29:23, 24)

2) “And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” (Matthew 26:27, 28)

Steve Newell

Steve,

You unwillingness to answer is interesting.

I don't see how you question relates to Holy Baptism.

We must read the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. First, we must remember that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22). The sacrifice of animals for the forgiveness only points to the need for a better sacrifice that we find only in Christ since annual sacrifices were needed on an ongoing basis.

In the New Testament verse on Holy Communion:

First, we receive the forgiveness of sin when we receive Christ's body and blood in the bread and in the wine. Jesus said this and Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 10:14-17 & 11:17-31. Holy Communion is not a symbol that we do but a means by which God imparts the forgiveness of sin.

Why do you have such an issue with the clear words of Holy Scripture? Does Baptism do anything? If yes, then want what does Baptism do? If no, then explain verses such Acts 22:16 and 1 Peter 3:21-22.

Tim

Steve,

Neither of the passages you cited mention the word "washing." Acts 22:16 and 1 Peter 3:21-22 do.

Anyway, the animal sacrifices foreshadowed Christ's perfect sacrifice.
Passover (where a sacrificial lamb was eaten) foreshadowed the Lord's Supper, where we eat the true sacrificial Lamb.
The levitical purification washings foreshadowed baptism, where Christ purifies us through water, by His Word.

Tim

Steve H.,

I took the liberty of reading your blog post. You're tilting at windmills. (For example, we don't believe in "water baptism," we believe in baptism.) If you want to address our teaching, start where we start--not were you start.

It's been mentioned several times, but the key to baptismal regeneration is...regeneration! Symbolists get confused because they object to the statement, "Baptism saves." Then they base all their arguments around that, going on about justification and faith, et cetera. In short, they completely miss the point. We say, "Baptism saves" because we believe baptism regenerates. Not because we believe that "baptism is a human work that we must add to Christ's perfect righteousness" or that "baptism + faith saves, rather than faith alone."

If you want to understand (let alone effectively argue against) the teaching of baptismal regeneration, start with regeneration.

Steve H.

Steve N.,
You said, “You unwillingness to answer is interesting.”

Produce a quote where I said I was unwilling to answer. I simply asked if you were willing to address those texts.

If I can clarify with you, do you or do you not believe people in the Old Covenant era could be literally forgiven of their sins via animal sacrifices?

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